Funding cuts frustrate doctors

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Sir: In the last six months, I, along with 11,000 other Concerned Ontario Doctors, have watched with frustration as the Ontario Liberals have instituted drastic funding cuts and short-sighted policies have undermined services provided by front-line doctors.

Many struggle to keep their practices afloat. Although their offices are small businesses, doctors prioritize patient care over profit. However, escalating cuts in 2015 forced many to reduce staff, services or worse, close their clinics.

A survey of Ontario physicians reveals that over 80% are burned out. Each week, more doctors leave or retire earlier than planned. and no one is replacing them.

No community is immune to the impact of reckless Liberal decisions.

In Chatham-Kent, we can clearly see the effect. Our emergency departments, inpatient wards and operating rooms are bursting at the seams, yet funding is cut again.

Pregnant women struggle to find local obstetricians for their care. Access to tertiary services in London and Windsor is almost impossible to obtain. Funding for hip and knee replacements was exhausted in December. Specialist funding for management of common illnesses like diabetes, heart failure, colitis, addiction, cirrhosis and kidney disease was also slashed. Wait lists grow because fewer specialists are available.

Chatham-Kent is one of the most underserved areas of the province, but the government has closed the doors to new graduates. We are not “a high needs area.” Liberal bureaucracy stops new family doctors from starting a practice that includes fundamental services like house calls, inpatient care, psychotherapy, obstetrics, or palliative care.

When I came to this community 20 years ago, the government had cut physicians and services. Hundreds of doctors left Ontario. One in three patients had no family doctor. The government took 20 years to fix that mistake.

The people of Chatham-Kent can’t afford to remain silent any longer.

All of us – past, present and future patients – should be furious that the Liberals have capped health care funding below the rate of inflation, or actual patient need.

Enough is enough. We cannot keep doing more with less.

Concerned Ontario Doctors ask you to stand with us on April 23 from noon to 3 p.m. on the South Lawn at Queen’s Park. Demand the Ontario Liberals commit to a long-term plan for health care so patients don’t suffer and front-line doctors don’t burn out from bailing out this sinking ship.

Constance Nasello, MD

A Concerned Ontario Doctor

Chatham

 

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